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What the Rogue One cast looked like as kids

Everyone is on their edge of their seat waiting for the release of Star Wars: Rogue One, the prequel to the original film that shows a group of Rebels attempting to steal the plans for the Death Star. The film follows last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which broke box office records at every turn and went on to become the third highest-grossing film of all time.

The cast, mostly unknowns with background in indie films and cult TV shows, is about to be launched into mega-stardom with the December 16 release. You can get used to seeing them looking fabulous on red carpets from now on, but here's what the cast of Rogue One looked like before they were stars.

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Felicity Jones

Then: Felicity Jones grew up in Bourneville, near Birmingham, England. Her mother worked in advertising, while her father was a journalist; however, her parents split when she was three, and her mother raised her and brother. Jones started acting at 11 at an after-school workshop, first appearing in the TV movie The Treasure Seekers in 1996 alongside future famous Brits Keira Knightley and Peter Capaldi.

Now: Jones' acting career started taking off in 2011, when her indie film Like Crazy won her the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. After earning an Oscar nomination for The Theory of Everything, Jones signed on for the role of Jyn Erso in Rogue One, taking on the Empire as the film's leading lady.

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Diego Luna

Then: Diego Luna was born in Mexico City, Mexico, to a set designer father and a costume designer mother. Although Luna's mother died when he was two, he still spent a lot of time on film sets growing up and started performing in Mexican TV shows and films at only 12 years old.

Now: Luna became popular with American audiences in the early 2000s with appearances in Frida and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. In 2008, he starred in the Oscar-winning film Milk, and in 2014 he lent his voice to Golden Globe-nominated animated comedy The Book of Life. In Rogue One, Luna plays Captain Cassian Andor, a Rebel Alliance intelligence officer.

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Ben Mendelsohn

Then: Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn grew up in Melbourne, the son of a professor. He developed an interest in drama in school and started acting at age 15 with a guest-starring role on the TV show Special Squad. He spent time on the Australian soap opera Neighbors opposite future pop star Kylie Minogue, and appeared in a number of other TV shows and films before hopping across the very big pond to Hollywood.

Now: Mendelsohn is a Golden Globe nominee and an Emmy winner for his role in the Netflix series Bloodline, which premiered in 2015, and is also known for appearing in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. In Rogue One, he plays Orson Krennic, an Imperial officer tasked with helping complete the construction of the Death Star.

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Mads Mikkelsen

Then: Mikkelsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He didn't spend his childhood acting; instead, he spent it training in gymnastics and, eventually, dancing. Mikkelsen, who trained at the Balettakademien in Gothenburg, Sweden, performed as a ballet dancer for years before moving into acting. He said that the shift came after he was hired to do gymnastics in the background of a show—a choreographer asked if he wanted to learn more about the craft of acting, and the rest is history.

Now: Mikkelsen is well known for his role as the villain in Casino Royale, as well as for his critically acclaimed appearances in films like The Hunt and King Arthur. Fans of cult television, however, will remember him as the perennially Emmy-snubbed Dr. Hannibal Lecter from Bryan Fuller's Hannibal, a role which immediately made him a favorite with "Fannibals" everywhere. In Rogue One, Mikkelsen plays Galen Erso, the scientist father of Jones' Jyn whose work is wanted by the Rebels and the Empire.

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Alan Tudyk

Then: Alan Tudyk grew up in Plano, Texas. He graduated from Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas with a degree in drama, and spent some time doing stand-up comedy and had a brief stint at Juilliard before moving into professional acting. He's said he left Juilliard after three years because there was "so much drama between students in my class."

Now: Leaf on the wind Tudyk has made a great career for himself both on and offscreen. The actor first solidified himself as a player in the nerd world with his role as adorkable pilot Wash on Joss Whedon's short-lived Firefly. The actor has taken that cred into roles on shows like Dollhouse, Con Man, A Knight's Tale and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. He has also become a noted voice actor, appearing in acclaimed animated films like Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. Tudyk will lend his voice to Rogue One's resident droid, K-2SO (who is, unfortunately, not as cute as BB-8). Director Gareth Edwards described him as "Chewbacca's personality in a droid's body"—he's sure to be a fun time.

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Forest Whitaker

Then: Whitaker grew up in Los Angeles, California, first attending college at Cal Poly Pomona on a football scholarship but then switching to the Music Conservatory at the University of Southern California to study opera after a back injury. He attributes his studies in voice as part of the reason he got into acting, saying, "I guess in preparation for opera certain things became apparent about acting… I can communicate with people I know much better than in opera, which really doesn't affect their lives in any way, shape or form."

Now: Whitaker made his film debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and later went on to appear in films like Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam, Bird and Lee Daniels' The Butler. He is also an Oscar and Golden Globe winner for 2006's The Last King of Scotland. Whitaker will play Saw Gerrera, a character first seen in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars' fifth season. Trained by Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and others, he fights with the Jedi against the Separatist army.

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Jimmy Smits

Then: Jimmy Smits was born in Brooklyn, the oldest of three children. He was a talented actor and athlete in high school, and after graduating, he earned a degree from Brooklyn College before getting his MFA in theater from Cornell University and beginning his acting career in off-Broadway plays.

Now: Smits became well-known for his roles in procedurals. The actor first appeared in L.A. Law before moving to NYPD Blue with guest roles on Miami Vice and Cop Rock. He then landed the role of Congressman (and future President) Matt Santos on The West Wing, and had roles on Cane, Dexter and Outlaw. More recently, he appeared on Sons of Anarchy and in Netflix's The Get Down. In Rogue One, the actor will have a cameo as his Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones character Bail Organa, Leia's adopted father.

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James Earl Jones

Then: James Earl Jones was born in Mississippi to a boxer father and a teacher/maid mother. At the age of five, he went to live with his grandparents on their farm in Michigan, a transition which he said caused so many issues for his sinuses and his stability that it impaired his speech development, causing him to develop a stutter.

Now: Jones says he escaped his stutter by turning to poetry in high school, leading him to study drama at Michigan University and launching him on a long and prolific acting career. Outside of providing the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars films, Jones is also known for The Lion King, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb, and Heat Wave. He earned an Oscar nomination for The Great White Hope in 1971 and won an honorary award from the Academy in 2012. He also holds Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for Claudine, Gabriel's Fire, Frasier, East Side/West Side, and more. Jones will return to his most famous role as Darth Vader for Rogue One, lending his voice to the character. The man inside the suit will be played by a number of other "large-framed" actors, but the voice will be back.